Coming Out of the Infertility Closet

I’ve always been an open book, if you will, when it comes to pretty much everything. And I mean everything, except that is for my struggle with infertility. This struggle…this fight…this sadness I’ve kept pretty much to myself (and NewsBoy of course). Yes, our parents and siblings are aware of what we are going through. And yes, I do have a small handful of RL girlfriends who know what we are going through. But by and large, in my real life, I have kept this to myself. Sure I have found amazing support online with people who don’t know me and wouldn’t know me if they walked right into me on the street. But my family and the people that are part of my every day life have no idea what we are going through.

After my friend IvoryGirl read my Thanksgiving post we started talking about how we keep our infertility from the people we are closest with but share it freely with complete strangers in cyberspace.

One of the main reasons I don’t want to go to Thanksgiving this year is my fear that I will simply blurt it all out at some point in response to someone being insensitive without even knowing it. Then I become family gossip. I don’t want that. Because this is no one’s business, right?

This is a very personal battle. I mean most people get to make love to their partner and surprise the world with a pregnancy whenever they see fit to share it. I don’t get that. I get phone calls and emails asking when my next doctor’s appointment is…when the next procedure or cycle will be. My sex life (or lack thereof) is out there for the world to know because I’m broken. I can’t have a baby the “old-fashioned” way. I need doctors and embryologists and anesthesiologists just to have a chance at having a baby. I get looks of pity and pep talks. (And who needs or wants those!? Or is it just me that gets really angry from that crap?) I don’t get to surprise anyone with the news if …IF…I actually get pregnant. Except those who have no idea I even want children. So part of me wants to maintain the secrecy just so I can surprise someone. Anyone.

But as I continued my conversation with IvoryGirl I admitted to skipping a lot…and I mean A LOT…of family functions over the past two years just because I couldn’t handle seeing kids or because I had just gotten a BFN again. In a way, it feels like I’m hiding from my life. I hate that. And I can’t figure out which will make things easier for me over time. I know with all my heart and soul that my family will do anything for me. I know that they will support me through anything and everything. But telling them comes with questions…the ones about when we decided to have kids…why we changed our minds…Am I ready to answer those questions? Do I even have to?

And then IvoryGirl in all her infinite wisdom said to me: “If they ask questions, you can say with impunity, ‘This is a really difficult process for us, and we’d prefer not to talk about it. I hope you can respect our wishes.’ And who knows, maybe having the visible support of your extended family will help you cope? Maybe in keeping it private, we’re giving ourselves a heavier burden to bear?”

And you know what? She is 100% absolutely positively right. How many of us suffer in silence daily only to cry to our computer screens because the people we talk to in cyberspace are the ONLY people who can even begin to imagine what it is that we are going through. We go through the motions of every day life. We smile at family gatherings and hang out at the bar (clearly there is a bar at my family gatherings) because it’s easier then facing the kids that are running around or the talk of so and so’s pregnancy. But IvoryGirl’s questions remains…are we making this harder on ourselves then it needs to be? I just don’t know…maybe we should have a little more faith in those we love? Maybe we should come out of the infertility closet?

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9 thoughts on “Coming Out of the Infertility Closet

  1. IvoryGirl does have a point and for some coming out of the closet may help and they may indeed garner more support.

    HOWEVER

    I came out and got fuck all support from the friends I needed it from the most.

    Now every time they don’t ask me how we’re going or even bother to feign an interest it just feels like a knife going through my heart.

    Wished I’d kept it to myself.

    You however, do what’s right for you.

    xxx

  2. Nothing makes me angrier than “I know you’ll be great mommy when it’s your turn.” Well… except for when people tell me it must not be part of God’s plan for me right now. What does God have to do with my uterus?

    To Rach – I am so sorry that you didn’t get the support from your friends when you let them in on your situation.

    But for you, NewsGirl, I want to say:

    “We’re here, we’re Infertile, Get used to Our mood swings!”

  3. We’re very private about our infertility too. But if there is one thing that I have learned it’s that we are not the only ones who have had problems. I’m so grateful that I “came out” to my manager at work. She is also going through infertility and we have become a great support to each other.

    Having said that, we haven’t shared with our family. I have also missed some family events because I don’t really want to see the newborn cousin or hear everyone sharing their pregnancy experiences at the baby shower. There will always be some events to avoid.

  4. I don’t remember how I found your blog, but I love it! I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time with IF and IVF. I am currently in the BCP phase of my 6th IVF cycle (7th if you count the FET). I am hoping IVF#3 is it for you.

  5. I would only come out if you have others who have struggled or you are prepared to deal with any type of reaction. I have a few family members who know we are struggling to get pregnant, but I haven’t given them details and we still keep it pretty quiet IRL.

  6. Your thoughts are right out of my head. I was the master of hiding in the closet with my painful infertility experience. Emerging through a blog(Coming2Terms) and then a book (Silent Sorority) — which was cathartic as well as painful as I relived the experience in writing — ultimately set me on a path to peace. wishing you the same.

  7. Here from Creme.
    Thanks for this post. I have often thought about coming completely out of the closet and the ramifications of that, good & bad.
    It’s a hard & personal decision.
    My husband doesn’t quite understand why, when we get home from a Doctor’s visit, the first thing I do is blog.

  8. I’m here from the crème de la crème list too.

    I’m in the closet at work, because it’s none of their business.

    Our family knows of our IF, but we don’t tell them any details, and they don’t ask (except for some who are more in the loop).

    With friends, it’s tricky. I’ve told a couple of real life friends, but I’ve had to learn to accept that they offer support as they are able (or not at all). At first, I rebuked too many of their well-meaning words of support (“your turn will come”, “try to let go of it for a while”, …) because they didn’t get it.
    It cost me at least one friendship.
    Now I nod, and remind myself that they’re trying. It’s unfair to expect an outsider to fully and deeply understand what it means to go through IF without having been there.
    I don’t fully understand what it means to have battled cancer, or many other misfortunes.

    Anyway, I hope that those you choose to open up to don’t disappoint you.

  9. Pingback: Celebrity IVF « I've Got News for You…

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